Monday, December 01, 2003



The question every Dodgers fan and Giants fan should be asking themselves is, Why couldn't our GM make a better offer for Derrek Lee or Richie Sexson than the Cubs and Diamondbacks?

From the Diamondbacks' perspective, I fail to see what's the point of trading for one year of Sexson when you had to deal away Curt Schilling to do it:

2003 15 WS
2002 24 WS

2003 26 WS
2002 22 WS

Schilling only pitched 168 innings in 2003, and maybe at 37 isn't a good bet to pitch any more than that in 2004. (Theo Epstein, who's a pretty smart guy, seems willing to bet otherwise.) Sexson, however, is still in his prime, even if he isn't quite among the elite at his position.

If Schilling's healthy, I think he's at least as valuable as Sexson in the standings, and capable of being much, much more so. (I don't have Win Share figures for Schilling's incredible 2001 season.) Granted, the Diamondbacks do end up saving money overall, although they ended up trading the best prospect from the Schiling deal along to Milwaukee to get Sexson.

There doesn't seem to be a plan in Arizona. They aren't trying to seriously challenge the Giants or Dodgers (or why trade away Schilling?), and they aren't building for the future (or why trade De La Rosa to the Brewers?). The only plan seems to be maintain the status quo for less money. What an exciting time to be a baseball fan in Arizona!

As for the Brewers, they certainly got a lot of bodies, but it seems they opted for quantity over quality. But did Melvin and Ash even bother calling Cashman or Evans to see what they'd offer for Sexson? Granted, Evans has his own troubles, but Sexson would have been about 15 Win Shares (or about 5 wins) better than the various bodies who were cobbled together to play 1B for Dodgers last year--or, in other words, a virtual deadlock with the Marlins in the standings for the Wild Card. That's not bad for $8 M.

So, what did the Brewers get?

Counsell can still get on base, but at 32 and injury prone he's nothing more than a bench player now.

Spivey had a great breakout year in 2002 (.294 GPA), but given his age (28) and minor league track record (.251 GPA in AAA; .319 GPA in AA; .274 GPA in A) I think his real ability is closer in line to what he did last year (.255 GPA). That's not horrendous for a 2B, but don't expect him to ever see another All-Star Game again except on television.

Moeller's a decent hitting catcher (.244 GPA in MLB), although he's also on the wrong side of 27.

I think it's fair to say that Lyle Overbay has the potential to turn into a useful major leaguer:

.258 GPA (NL)
.310 GPA (AAA)
.323 GPA (AA)
.304 GPA (A)

Overbay crushed the ball in the minors, but before you get too excited it's important to note he's always been a bit older than his opponents. He'll be 27 next year and probably won't ever become the same hitter as Sexson (.307 GPA in 2003). (This isn't like the Marlins-Cubs deal, where the Cubs essentially traded away a younger player for his older, more proven, and more expensive version. Choi's minor league GPA is similar to Overbay's, but he's also three years younger.) But I wouldn't be surprised to see Overbay turn into Doug Mientkiewicz (.289 GPA in 2003)--minus the glove, of course. (Maybe the Giants and/or Dodgers can convince the Brewers to part with Overbay.)

What's really weird is that none of these players are significantly younger than Richie Sexson, and none of them have the potential to be much more than league average for their position.

It's only with the two minor leaguers that things get interesting:

LHP Chris Capuano struck out nearly a batter per inning over his minor league career (8.4 K/9) and had decent control (3.6 BB/9). After a mixed 2001 season in AA (9.5 K/9 but 5.31 ERA), he missed most of 2002 for reasons I can't discern (injury?). But he had a good year in AAA last year (3.34 ERA, 142 IP, 133 H, 9 HR, 108 K, 43 BB). Given his K/BB ratio stayed the same despite the dip in Ks, I think he's still a good bet to be solid #3 starter or perhaps even be better served as a middle reliever.

LHP Jorge de la Rosa had a fantastic year (2.80 ERA, 99.2 IP, 87 H, 6 HR, 102 K, 36 BB) with Boston's AA team, even if he did struggle a bit in his AAA call-up (3.75 ERA, 24 IP, 17 K, 12 BB). Still, not bad for a 22 year old. (Given how depleted Boston's system is, I'm still a little shocked Theo traded him... but Schilling is Schilling.)

What about Shane Nance, you ask?

LHP Shane Nance's minor league numbers are superb (9.4 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 6.6 H/9, .6 HR/9), but he's 26 and has yet to show the same dominance at the major league level. Due to his slight build (5'8") he's been exclusively a reliever over his career, and the Diamondbacks are clearly hoping that the high amount of hits and homers (38 H and 6 HR in 30 IP) he allowed with the Brewers in 2003 was an aberration.

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